Kisame’s house was in the suburbs, which was both odd and enlightening at the same time. When Shikamaru had gotten the address, some of his disbelief might have shown because Kisame had laughed and asked if it was really that surprising. After seeing the guy’s back yard though, it wasn’t that hard to believe at all.
The Hoshigakis had a huge pool out back. As in, it took up most of the yard. There was maybe four to six feet of slate around the water, no grass, and enough toys and summer accessories to fill a small shed. Which it did if you considered that Kisame’s dad had to park out on the driveway because there was no more space in the garage.
On a side note… the female Hoshigaki-san rode a motorcycle and Kisame got his colouring from her. His mom was a paler blue than Kisame, but the eyes and the skin were definitely hers. And Hoshigaki-san didn’t seem to be older than… maybe Arashi Asuma.
Said Hoshigaki-san was giving her son the stink eye.
“And you were going to tell me we were going to have a visitor when, kingyo?”
“Definitely today,” Kisame replied, grinning. “In fact, right now. Kaa-san, meet Nara Shikamaru. Shika, Kaa-san.” Leaning around his mom, the younger shark whispered, “Careful, she bites.”
Shikamaru looked between them, and quickly interrupted before Kisame got himself into serious trouble (somehow, he felt like Kisame did often). “It’s nice to meet you, Hoshigaki-dono.” He offered a deep bow, thinking maybe his mother’s insistence that he learn manners wasn’t a bad idea in the long run.
(Just because he rarely used them didn’t mean he couldn’t after all.)
Turning back to face him, Hoshigaki-san huffed. “It’s good to finally meet you as well, Nara. Not sure what you see in my kid… but, eh. C’mon in.” She stepped aside, shoving her son back to clear the way. “There’s nacho material in the kitchen, kingyo can be a proper host for once… I’m sure he can do that at least.”
Kisame rolled his eyes as he moved out of the way of her elbow. “Hai.” Reaching out with one beefy arm, he hugged his mom around the shoulders and kissed her on the cheek. “Have fun, and don’t forget, grandmas are only ten points, squirrels are fifty.”
“If you get doubles, you get an extra ten points, Sai informs me,” Shikamaru told the other male, and smiled when the woman glanced his way. “Have a pleasant day, ma’am.”
Blinking once, Kisame’s mom snorted. “All of a sudden, things are becoming clearer. Right, I’m off. Don’t trash the house and don’t forget, Tou-san is back at six. Don’t be naked.”
“Er…” Evidently, Kisame had lost his tongue. As he stood opening and closing his mouth, Hoshigaki-dono patted his bright purple cheek, beamed at Shikamaru, and slipped out the door.
The Nara leaned back against the wall, shoulders slumping and muscles all but giving out. “I haven’t expended that much energy since I helped Naruto prank Uchiha,” he grumbled. What a pain.
Kisame chuckled sheepishly. “You want food or the couch?”
“That’s a serious question,” Shikamaru responded, gaze drifting in the direction of the living room. “… eh. Food then couch.”
Smirking, Blue Boy nodded and lead the way to the monstrosity of black granite and stainless steel that the Hoshikagis called their kitchen. “Nachos okay?”
“Sure. Can they be spicy?” the younger male asked, hands stuffed into his pockets.
“Hell yeah. Kaa-san’s a wimp at it, but Tou-san and I keep the good stuff for ourselves.” Rounding the corner of the middle island cabinet, his host gestured at the stools lining the counter. “Take a seat, this’ll take maybe five minutes.”
Shikamaru nodded and flopped down onto a stool, practically draping himself over the counter immediately following. “Kay.” A beat, as he listened to the rustling of a chip bag and the sound of the fridge opening. Then, “Got coffee?”
One blue hand lifted from the fridge door to point at the counter on the other side. “Machine’s over there; help yourself,” Kisame replied around the double doors. “Just pick a capsule and pop it in.”
Grunting, the darker-haired boy pressed his palm against the countertop and shoved himself up. He slowly made his way to the coffee pot and poked it. “… How much did this thing cost—? No, don’t answer that, it’s too troublesome to contemplate.”
He shook his head and reached over to grab one of the little containers stacked in two neat rows to the side. He popped it into the slot and frowned. Eyed the… tank, for lack of a better word, attached to the side. The water was okay, so… he opened the door immediately above the machine, finding mugs, put one in place and pressed the start button.
“… Okay. That was simple.”
“Eh, Kaa-san doesn’t like waiting for a whole pot.”
Shikamaru turned to look at the other boy, head tilting slightly. “I can empathize with her,” he said. “Though… I think Ino would more than me. Personally, I don’t mind the time I can nap between turning the pot on and getting the coffee.” Unless he was in a hurry… which wasn’t often.
Setting a jug of salsa down next to the guacamole, jalapenos, cheese, and chips, Kisame snorted. “You and sleep,” he said, spreading chips over a metal plate. “Oh right.” Reaching back, he tugged open the fridge and a tomato joined the lineup.
“What, you don’t like sleep?” the Nara asked with a quirked brow.
“Not as much as you.” Kisame slid a knife out from the block and started in on the tomato. “Dude, you take it to an addict’s level.”
A shrug. “If we’re being technical, sleep is the most addictive thing in the history of ever.” Quirking a grin, Shikamaru added, “Ever tried going without? Indefinitely? Your brain starts screwing you over.”
Tossing chunks of red among the chips, Blue Boy grinned. “Uh huh. And how long have you ever been awake for?”
Pause. Blink. “… five hours?”
“What for?” Glops of mashed avocado was added via spoon as Kisame tilted his head.
“I was running from mom,” Shikamaru admitted. “She kept finding me. Was trying to cut my hair. Eventually I went over to Choji’s and hid in his closet… where no one found me for… like, an entire day.” He paused, thinking fondly back on those gloriously hassle-free twenty four hours. “Luckily, that was where Choji hid his food stash.”
Snickering, Kisame reached over and batted at the spikes of his ponytail. “Obviously, she got to you in the end. What was so bad about getting a haircut?”
The younger boy leaned out of reach, mock-frowning. “I was ten. She was cutting into my quality ‘alone’ time.” He paused, reconsidering. Actually, that wasn’t entirely accurate, if he were honest with himself. It’d had more to do with being just like dad than it had with being alone. “Or something like that. And yeah, eventually she got me anyway. That woman’s tenacious.”
Kisame nodded as he finished up the nacho plate. “Tell me ‘bout it. Kaa-san’s been on my case about college since I was twelve.” Holding it up, he turned and slid it into an over-sized toaster oven. “Sweet, almost done.”
“Cool.” Shikamaru paused, wondering what else to say.
Not that he really needed to… That was one of the things he kind of really liked about hanging out with Kisame. The older boy was troublesome sometimes, but there were other times that it was just… really relaxing. No demands, no worries, no wondering. Completely chilled out.
The Nara’s phone, in his back pocket, beeped, proving to be quite contrary to his thoughts. Blinking, he pulled it out and looked at it. His brow twitched. “Definitely talking to Chuushin,” he said decisively.
Standing by the coffee machine, Kisame grinned as he grabbed a glass cup from the cupboard. “Left my phone upstairs on purpose.”
Shikamaru nodded, and the phone beeped again. And again. “You’ve gotta be kidding me… really, man?” he mumbled, scowling as it beeped twice more before going silent. That’s not clever at all, Toji. Really, it’s not.
On the screen, declared almost cheerfully, was the old children’s rhyme about trees and marriage and kissing. Only the last line was edited from ‘baby in a baby carriage’ to ‘baby from an orphanage’. “Your friend has the maturity of a ten-year-old girl.”
“The type that gets kicked out from the cool group. Trust me, I know.” Still amused, the shark crossed the kitchen and peered over Shika’s shoulder. “Make that repeatedly kicked out.”
Shikamaru sighed and clicked the power-save button, stuffing the device back into his pocket without replying. “Then why haven’t you kicked him out yet?”
Shrugging as he moved on to the fridge, Kisame answered over his shoulder, “Kakuzu needs a punching bag that isn’t Hidan. Pyro fits the job just fine.”
“And why hasn’t Chuushin—” Shikamaru stopped, brow furrowing. “Nevermind,” he groaned and shook his head. “Anyway, I’m just hoping someone tapes the assembly. Should be entertaining, but I wasn’t going to stick around to find out.”
Kisame looked up from pouring himself a cola. “Asuma will have footage. Between him and Sarutobi, fuck, not much gets missed.” He blinked at Shikamaru’s expression. “You didn’t know that?”
There was a beat, during which Shikamaru allowed his view of the world to realign itself. Then he sighed and shook his head. “I shouldn’t be surprised,” he admitted. “Sarutobi-sensei and Naruto are really close… It’s ridiculous.”
“The old man’s a sadist. Plain and simple,” Kisame said with a grunt, shutting the fridge. He turned with a frown. “Oi…” *Ding* He grinned. “Perfect.” Slipping on an oven mitt, Kisame gestured at the living room. “I’ll bring the nachos over. Can you grab the drinks?”
Shikamaru blinked, but nodded and fetched both his coffee and his date’s cola before heading toward the indicated area. He set them down on coasters on the coffee table as the blue teen dropped a thick towel over the wood and set the nachos down on it.
Dropping down on the opposite couch, Kisame pulled off the mitt and grinned. “So what was Dei gonna do with those spiders?”
The younger male took a careful sip of his coffee and shook his head. “I’ll let you wait to see the footage,” he replied flatly, but the corner of his mouth twitched. “Suffice to say… Naruto would be proud—will be, is—there will be a mob of people out for the blood of those responsible, and I get to be here where it’s not loud and possibly fatal to so much as be male.” He paused. “Also, I think Shino was very happy when Deidara started enlisting.”
Kisame blinked once, slowly. “Shino… is the kid with the fangs?” He motioned at his cheeks with a chip. “And the red marks?”
Snort. “That’s Kiba. Shino’s the guy with the hood and the sunglasses and the penchant for high collars,” the younger corrected. “You know, the one that hid in the tree back during that water thing in Suna, and ambushed Naruto and Sakura.” He paused, eyes narrowing slightly at Kisame’s continued blank look. “No? Oh well.”
“Sorry, must have been dodging snow balls at the time,” the shark said with a shrug. Then he grinned. “Man, the Kiba guy was pissed when I dumped him in the tub!” As Kisame chomped down on another chip, Shikamaru realized that if he didn’t start eating soon, the nachos would be gone.
Sighing, the Nara reached out and scooped up a chip, keeping his free hand under it so none of the topping would fall onto the floor (or the couch). “Yeah,” he muttered. “He whined about it for a while.” And stuffed the snack into his mouth before it had any more of a chance of possibly falling.
Smirking, Kisame hummed around his own mouthful. Smug and content, he picked up one of the three controls on the table and pointed it at the sound system. “Hm… Meh.” He must have hit the random button, because some Korean pop song came on mid-verse. Kisame blinked and rolled his eyes as ‘Hey, sexy lady!’ boomed through the room. “Fucking hell—Shut up.” And he changed the track.
The other male choked on his second chip, but somehow managed not to laugh as he chewed. When he swallowed, he grinned at Kisame. “Please tell me that’s not yours,” he said, reaching for his coffee.
“Worse. It’s Tou-san’s.”
This time, Shikamaru did laugh.
After all was said and done, there were only—perhaps—three males in the entire student body that were unbothered by the horrible experience that was the Sex Ed Assembly. Only three. Sai was cackling over it for hours, more pleased than anything else (he’d gotten good material, was his only explanation). Haku thought the lot of them were ridiculous and needed to grow up, and would not offer anyone any sort of condolences (or memory powder, no matter how many times Naruto pleaded). And Tobi?
“… and then he hid under my seat! Tobi has never been more happy in all his life,” the boy sighed from his spot beside Hinata. His lunch was thus far untouched, since he’d been wasting so much time babbling about the exciting experience.
A muffled giggle made its way past the thermos Hinata was drinking from. When she lowered it, her eyes were crinkled in amusement. “There’s not much room under there, is there?” she asked with a smile. “How long was he like that?”
“Until Tsunade-sama found Shino-kun and was distracted by him. Then Deidara-san went and hid with Naruto-san in that place,” Tobi said, beaming. “I think they’re still there!”
Humming, Hinata looked out over the quad. “You know… A year ago, I would not have imagined all of us getting along so well.” She nibbled on her chicken sandwich. “Kind of amazing, isn’t it?”
Tobi blinked, derailed at the sudden change of subject, and eyed her for a beat. “Yeah,” he said finally, brow lifting. “Um… Are you okay?”
She blushed prettily and her gaze dropped into her lap. “I had a talk with Hanabi-chan last night. She misses me… so we talked about what it was like when I still lived at home.” Hinata fiddled with her napkin. “Made me think of Neji and when we used to eat together. Not that eating with you isn’t wonderful!” she added in a rush, raising her head, eyes large. “Just… that it was different then.”
The boy considered that for a few minutes, using the time to catch up on eating, then hummed. “Well, we all change. These are the years we must use to learn to be adults….” He paused, head tilting. “Not that things cannot be like they were, Hinata-kun.” One hand reached out to pat hers, and he smiled widely. “At least in a way! You made up with Neji-san, didn’t you? And you can be friends with Naruto-san, and Tenten-san. Maybe, even, your family will eventually learn to accept that you’re different, and things will be like they were. But better! Are you going to eat that cupcake?”
Without a word, Hinata handed over the cupcake. But she seemed to be really thinking, so that was alright. Besides, Tobi had a chocolate cupcake now! “Thank you!”
As usual, the first thing Hayate Gekkō heard walking into the classroom was one of the Three. This time it was Lee, newest to the class after Tobi transferred out.
“Naruto-kun! I am surprised at you! Nobunaga-sama would never have said that about his son!”
Two other mouths opened to shout—whatever it would be, Gekkō didn’t care. “Hello everyone!” he called out. “Heads up, I have an announcement.” In a strange way, he was actually going to miss this bunch. Shaking his head, he strode to the middle of the room, taking in the grudging regard from the class. It had taken him a whole month to get to this point and now… Ah, what a waste.
There were a few mumbles from one part of the room, where Naruto was looking annoyed at being interrupted. Nobody else spoke up, and they were all waiting. Particularly Sai, whose expression was open and rather… Well he was probably up to something again.
Hiding the smirk, Gekkō clasped his hands at his back and cleared his throat. “It has been an interesting two months, but I am afraid that I will no longer be teaching this class.” In the back, Kiba dropped his jaw. Choji, who sat next to him, frowned and right on cue…
“But Hayate-san! You can’t leave!” Lee had shot to his feet.” Have we caused you distress? Has something happened? Why—”
“Hey, that’s not fair!” Naruto was, of course, yelling over his friend. “I was starting to like you!”
Sai was now pouting a bit, and woefully making some note in the journal before him. Others looked like they wanted to interject, but at that moment—the door burst open suddenly. Several students startled badly, two falling right out of their seats.
And his purple-haired replacement was waltzing in with a huge grin like she owned the place. Poor bastards. “Yo! How goes, you nutsos? Nice to meet ya, I’m Anko! Just Anko, you call me by my family name and I’ll punch you in the throat. He’s already gone over everything, right?” The confused, horrified looks were answer enough, and the woman blinked as she looked at the clock. “Damn, early. Whoops.”
Gekkō coughed, hiding a grin behind a fist. “Just a bit,” he murmured, then straightened to meet the betrayed, and a few accusatory, stares. “Class, meet Anko-san. She’s taught this course before so she knows exactly what she’s doing. No, Lee, it’s not your fault, or anyone else’s. Things just… happen.” Surprisingly well orchestrated in this case, Gekkō thought, taking a step back as Anko took the ‘stage’.
As her voice rose, Gekkō bowed himself out. He sighed when the door clicked shut behind him and turned to the man waiting in the hall. “I like those kids,” he admitted.
Genma snorted. “No you don’t. Or you would have told them she’s sadistic too.”
“Compared to you, she’s easy,” Gekkō shot back, shoving his friend’s shoulder as they ambled towards the exit. His desk was already cleaned out and the school material returned…
Turning around just outside, Genma raised a brow at Gekkō’s hesitation on the threshold. “You know Sarutobi’s gonna call you for random security detail, right? You’ll be back.”
Grunting, Gekkō stepped out into the watery sunshine. “That’s kind of what I’m dreading.” He grinned. “I’m looking forward to what Naruto-kun’s going to have prepped for me.” Cuz all the world knew that Naruto knew exactly who his grandad called in, and when. “So! A wood shop? Do you even know anything else?”
“Shut up, drama queen.”
“Make me, Pinocchio.”
Meanwhile back in the classroom…
“… and that’s why you should watch how you behave—” Anko was saying, but Naruto had apparently had enough.
“Waaaaiiitt a second!” the blond shouted unnecessarily. “Weren’t you here at the THD last year?”
Sai blinked. “She was?” He hadn’t noticed. Then again, he’d been distracted talking with Kisame about… something he couldn’t recall.
“Yeah!” Naruto snapped, arms crossed.
Anko was grinning.
In the crowd, Kiba was nodding. “She handed Konan the spork,” he said, a grin spreading. “Best display of teacher-student planning ever.”
“But Konan-san hurt that random-student-whose-name-I-can’t-remember,” Lee objected, trailing off with a disturbed expression.
Down at his feet, Choji glanced up. “I can’t tell if you’re more upset that she resorted to violence or that you can’t remember the poor kid’s name.”
Lee blushed and sat back down as Kiba laughed. “The guy had it coming, Lee,” Kiba assured him. “He was staring at her ass.”
“He touched her ass,” Anko corrected mildly, looking unbothered at being caught.
Sai raised his hand, tilting his head. When Anko blinked at him, he took that as leave to continue. “Was it a spork, or a spoon? I’ve heard both,” he said.
Anko blinked a few more times and actually seemed to be considering the question. “Spork,” she decided eventually. “I think. I don’t know why I would have been carrying around a spoon…”
“You mean you had a reason to be carrying a spork?” Haku asked, brows furrowing in concern. It was hard to tell, but he may have been wondering about the sanity of his classmates… and probably the teacher too.
“Obviously,” she said, but didn’t go into detail, and yeah, okay that was really worrying. Huffing, she leaned back against the desk, surveying them all in their various seats on the rather comfortable furniture in the room.
“Alright, so I’ve been debriefed on all of you—not that I don’t know you each by reputation alone, of course. And I’ve got this to say—Naruto, if you prank me, I swear to the gods, you will get a punishment that will make Tsunade-hime cringe. Kiba, if you let him, or talk him into it, you will share in that punishment. Sai, don’t you have anything better to do than talking people into dropping their pants? Choji—no eating in class unless it’s part of the lesson. Make sure it’s part of the lesson.” Her eyes narrowed. “Lee, if I hear the word ‘youth’ come out of your mouth, I will go and kick Gai in the balls.” She paused to let Naruto and Kiba snicker themselves out, amused at the paleness of Lee’s face. “Haku, nice to meet you.”
The pretty boy in question offered a smile in response. “Zabuza-san says you’re welcome to dinner any time,” he said cheerfully.
“Yeah that so figures,” she muttered, and sniffed. “Any questions?”
Kiba raised his hand. “Can we use real blood in the show now?”
Anko laughed. “Nope. Sorry, but I’ve already been informed that using actual bodily fluids will get me fired. Again.”
Naruto slumped. “Dammit.” Dog boy leaned over to whisper something in his ear, and he perked. “Hey, what about getting the art classes to be or do props?”
Actually, that wasn’t a bad idea. She pretended to consider it, then nodded slowly. “Alright, that could be do-able, however, I leave it up to you guys to speak with the art teacher, and the students.”
“Could it be an extra credit deal?” Sai piped up, fully on-board. “That’d get more volunteers.”
Good to know the volunteer bit went without saying. “Yeah. I’m willing to give a 100 percent grade to anyone that manages to get more than three people to volunteer, and I’ll award the same to the volunteers.” This might go over more smoothly than she’d hoped.
Grinning widely, Kiba snickered. “Is Duck-butt still behind in credits?” he asked Naruto, none-too-quietly.
“He’s always behind in credits,” the blond scoffed. “He keeps having to dodge Karin.”
Both boys leaned back a little when Lee beamed at them. “Ah,” he cooed. “The love of—Agghhhck…” It seemed as if the boy had swallowed his tongue at the sudden sharpening of Anko’s attention. He coughed. “Er. Innocent love is so beautiful, don’t you think, Choji-kun?” he finished determinedly.
The moon-faced boy turned to give Gai-sensei’s protégé a smile. “I’m sure it is, Lee,” he said amidst the chorus of snickers, “but I don’t think it applies to Karin-chan.”
“Choji-kun!” Lee spluttered.
Anko tried not to laugh herself sick. No wonder Hayate had liked these kids so much! Sai was even then twisting around on his stool to give Lee a flat look. “Karin is not innocent. Just ask Shokubutsu-san,” he said, and grinned.
Haku gave the boy a startled look. “Zet—” he began, before cutting himself off and shaking his head firmly. “No, nevermind, it’s not my business.”
“I hear Two-Tone has brothers in a different school,” Kiba added in a whisper. “Think Karin is interested in group activities?” His eyebrows waggled.
From the strangled sound coming from Lee’s throat, his world and reality were finally communicating. Pity. Gai would be crying into his cups tonight.
As the last bell rang, the students long gone, Kurenai exhaled slowly. Relief was foremost, because dealing with that many traumatized teenagers wasn’t ever easy, and add spiders on top of it— Auughhh… She shuddered. She would never look at spiders the same way again.
She was definitely going to have words with Toji first thing in the morning.
A knock on her classroom door drew her attention up, and she smiled genuinely for what seemed the first time that day. “Asuma,” she greeted, standing, and waved him inside. “Come in. How’d it go?”
“It’s a good thing those critters aren’t poisonous,” he answered with a grin. “I’ve been bitten three times already, though Kakashi is boasting he’s had five.” Leaning in, he brushed his lips over hers in a quick kiss as his arms wrapped around her. “You?”
“No tarantula sightings here,” she said, arms sliding up around his shoulders. She rested her head on one. “Just lots and lots of freaking teenagers jumping at shadows. And last I heard, Kakashi was saying seven. I think he’s keeping one in his desk.”
The muscle under her cheek rose and fell as he shrugged. “Wouldn’t be surprised,” he muttered. “Hey, feel like skipping tomorrow?” For a fellow teacher, he should not sound so eager about shirking responsibility.
She straightened and frowned at him. “Really, Asuma?” she demanded, trying for her best scolding tone. “I’d love to… unfortunately, I really don’t get paid enough to do that.” She gave him a regretful smile.
“That’s what sick-leave is for,” he shot back grinning. “Gotta look after your own personal mental health, right? All that stress, all that worrying… all those raging hormones…”
Kurenai was grinning just as widely by the time he’d finished. “You’re a horrible influence,” she chided. “What did you have in mind?”
Humming, he nuzzled under her ear. “Three day weekend at the onsen sound good to you?”
“Hm. Depends on which onsen and whether or not you’re paying,” she teased, eyes fluttering closed.
Asuma chuckled. “The old man already paid for the trip in more ways than one and it’s four hours due south.” Meaning far away from any worries she’d have from here. “Sarutobi also made sure Naruto, Kakashi, and Jiraiya are housebound. Though, he can’t vouch for Sai-kun,” he tacked on as he kissed her pulse. “So? Your boss says we can go. What do you say?”
Laughing softly, she pulled back to meet his gaze. “Well, when you’ve gone to such lengths, how can I refuse?”
“Hmmm, I love it when you give in.” He kissed her lightly on the nose. “Love it even more when you object.” Laughing at her eye roll, Asuma dropped his arms and stepped back. “C’mon, let’s get out of here before Deidara finds a way to add fire to those spiders.”
A/N: Excuses? There are no excuses. I love these kids!
Muttering obscenities, Kisame flipped through the tracks until he hit a stretch of 90’s classics and shrugged as Nine Inch Nails came on. “Close enough,” he muttered, setting the remote back down. “If I keep going, I might end up with fucking Celine Dion.”
Shikamaru winced. “Erk,” he inserted eloquently. “Ino listens to her a lot. I invested in earplugs.”
“Painful.” Kisame grimaced as he reached for the food. “I’d take that American chick… Houston? Over Celine.”
“Not familiar with her,” the Nara responded, hand cupped under his current chip. “Though I have heard a lot about some lady called ‘Gaga’ lately from Ino and Sai.” He shook his head. “The latter, apparently, because he likes how she dresses.”
Kisame snorted. “Sai cares about clothes?” A glance to the side and Kisame smirked. Holding up the shiny tabloid, he asked, “What does he think about Miley Cyrus?”
His companion blinked around a chip. He honestly had no idea.